Reading the Wired News discussion of the upcoming review of DCMA, reminded me of an exchange I had with Lawrence Lessig that ended in a letter to the editor of Industry Standard (Lessig was writing a regular piece for them at the time).
The quirk in DCMA is that it doesn’t say anything about the quality of the technology used to keep data locked up. You can use the dumbest encyprtion algorithm in the world, but I could still be breaking the law by trying to figure out which dumb algorithm you used.
It’s not clear to me that any algorithm that obscures the original content isn’t covered by DCMA, if the content author uses it for the purpose of obscuring that content. The file format of Microsoft Word may even qualify, if I were to use is as a means of obscuring the original content.
As I said in my letter, the good news for the record companies is that they don’t have to invest in better encryption algorithms - if they’re going to rely on DCMA as the ultimate protection, any old algorithm is good enough!